Combat in Neverwinter is based on a version of fourth edition Dungeons and Dragons rules modified to be more action-oriented and faster-paced than either the pencil-and-paper roleplaying game on which it is based or even most other MMORPGs. Battles in the game are similar in some ways to the combat in third-person shooters, especially with the unique key and mouse bindings for the action bar and active targeting based on moving a reticule in the middle of the screen over foes.
Another notable difference is that there is no automatic health regeneration outside of combat except at campfires, or when the character has some stats in Regeneration. This makes Health Potions much more important than they would otherwise be.
The action bar is divided in sections for the following types of actions:
- Two slots for At-will powers that can be used at any time, having little or no cooldown, bound to the left and right mouse buttons.
- One slot for a defensive or evasive Utility power bound to the Shift key.
- Three slots for Encounter powers that can be used at any time, but which have varying cooldowns (typically around 10 seconds). These are bound to the "Q", "E" and "R" keys.
- Two slots for Daily powers that can only be used after charging the Action Points meter.
- Each class charges the meter through performing class-specific actions. For example, a Guardian Fighter does so through defensive actions and holding aggro.
- Three more slots for items.
- Two slots for passive Class Features.
The combat events can be shown on the screen with floating combat text. The type and nature of the action is indicated with colours and icons.
- Green = Healing.
- Yellow = Damage dealt.
- Orange = Critical damage dealt.
- Red = Damage taken.